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Countdown to Air Regulations Nearly 10 Years Overdue

Power plants are the largest unregulated industrial source of air toxics in the U.S., but not for long. After nearly a decade since regulations were first called for in the Clean Air Act, the EPA has set a timeline for cutting emissions of hazardous chemicals like mercury, lead, arsenic, and other toxins spewed into the air daily by power plants across the country.

Earthjustice teamed with a coalition of organizations to compel the regulations, which were evaded for years by the Bush administration. And the news couldn't come soon enough. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eight percent of American women of childbearing age have mercury in their bodies at levels high enough to put their babies at risk of birth defects, loss of IQ, learning disabilities and developmental problems. Wildlife are severely affected as well.

"It is unconscionable that 19 years after the Clean Air Act of 1990, we still do not have air toxics controls on these large existing sources of pollution," said James Pew, attorney for Earthjustice. "After years of litigating this issue, our groups look forward to a productive working relationship with the agency as it finally develops these rules."

Attorneys at Earthjustice, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Clean Air Task Force, Natural Resources Defense Council, Southern Environmental Law Center, and Waterkeeper Alliance filed the lawsuit in December 2008 on behalf of their organizations and the American Nurses Association, Conservation Law Foundation, Environment America, Environmental Defense Fund, Izaak Walton League of America, Natural Resources Council of Maine, The Ohio Environmental Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Sierra Club.